In the novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley, Victor Frankenstein uses chemicals to bring life to his hideous creature. In the 1931 film based on the novel, the doctor harnesses the power of electricity to animate the monster.
Today, however, the classic story requires the latest technology in order to live on. For the 21st century, Frankenstein has gone digital.
The web series Frankenstein, M.D., reimagines the mad doctor as Victoria Frankenstein (Anna Lore), a brilliant medical research student under the mentorship of Dr. Waldeman. As she finishes her M.D./Ph.D., Victoria teams up with fellow med student, Iggy DeLacey (comedian Steve Zaragoza), to present a story about science and a window into her life.
The series is the latest from Pemberley Digital, producers of Emmy winning The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and the recently-completed Emma Approved. This time, they teamed with PBS Digital for that channel’s first scripted original series.
Like one of my favorite films, Young Frankenstein, the series is full of charm and humor. Some of the best moments are watching Vic calmly lecture during a demonstration as all around her there is the chaos of experiments going awry.
Always present is the dissonance between innovation and traditional ethics, but never at the expense of the story. The heart of the story is Victoria’s single-minded obsession to succeed at the expense of personal relationships. Iggy has to constantly remind Vic (and us) that he is the cohost, not her lab assistant. His weekly “Ask Iggy” videos answer viewer questions about science, but you have to wonder if Vic even knows he’s doing them.
Let’s face it; what we really want is to see how she is going to use 21st-century medicine to create The Creature. When she does, it is not out of a pure ambition to create life, but as a way to compensate for the sudden loss of her friend and off-screen cameraman, Robert, in a mountain climbing accident. No spoilers (you will have to watch), but instead of horror, we feel compassion and empathy for Vic and for her creation.
In signature Pemberley Digital style, the use of transmedia is integral to the storytelling. All the characters are on Twitter, Tumblr and other social media. Her childhood friend, Eli, records video messages for her when he can’t reach her any other way. On her website, she posts lab notes and conclusions. When the Creature is on the loose, Vic asks people to tweet sightings of him, and uses them to track him.
Despite the modern twists, the story stays true to canon. This is a modern retelling, not fan fiction or a variation. It is, perhaps, a little less successful than other Pemberley Digital productions, but anyone familiar with the book will be satisfied with the result.
Frankenstein, M.D. wraps up on Halloween and I will be sorry to see it end.
Enter to win this journal, perfect for medical notes, progress on your #creaturesightings or even your grocery list. This notebook comes with 80 lined pages and elastic band closure. (Dimensions: 5″ x 7″)